Exploring neighbourhood design at St Raphael’s Estate

Project date: 2019

In the north London borough of Brent, The Glass-House was involved in a partnership project with Karacusevic Carson Architects, commissioned by Brent Council, to involve local residents and stakeholders in the design process for exploring redevelopment options for their housing estate. The Glass-House delivered a programme of our Design Training to prepare and upskill residents for the design and planning process that lay ahead.

THE STORY

Karakusevic Carson Architects, working with partners including The Glass-House Community Led Design, were commissioned by Brent Council to develop options for the future regeneration of St Raphael’s Estate. A significant aspect of the brief was that the design process was to engage and be informed by local residents and stakeholders.

As one of the early stages of that process, The Glass-House delivered our Homes & Neighbourhoods by Design training course to a mixed group of local residents, St Raphael’s Voice, alongside Brent Council officers and a representative from the resident board’s independent advisor, PPCR.

 

The course was designed to equip the residents with useful design skills and perspective early in their project journey and to provide a safe and independent space for all of the participants to develop a shared understanding of both the principles and language of urban and housing design.

 

Participants visited Granville New Homes and the surrounding wider Granville redevelopment. They looked at the development with a critical eye, mapping both experiential and urban design qualities of the place, what they liked and didn’t like, and which elements might be appropriate within the context of St Raphael’s estate.

 

The training introduced some principles for reading architectural drawings and utilised mapping and other methods to explore qualities of their estate in relation to some basic urban design methods. Participants also worked together to model some simple design ideas based on three different regeneration scenarios for St Raphael’s in order to create a context for their experimentation with urban design principles.

The Design Training was important to set St Raphael’s Voice on a constructive path and for building confidence amongst the group’s members at this early stage of their journey. It enabled them to develop a shared language to discuss design and explore the potential routes to the regeneration of their estate with Karakesevic Carson Architects and Brent Council.

The Design Training created a safe space to explore different perspectives from their own, to bond with fellow members of the resident board and to grow in confidence as a group.  Some members of St Raphael’s Voice are already using what they did in the Design Training to help to engage other members of the community, and will be helping to facilitate workshops for the wider community of St Raphael’s Estate.

St Raphael’s Voice board members reported that they had learned:

“Density doesn’t mean overcrowding – feel like I’ve been armed with an important / useful tool in terms of measuring by hectares per unit / units per hectare”

“How design works and the different stages”

“I have a greater understanding of the design process, meaning more confidence on outlook and planning”

They added:

“I’m looking forward to future workshops”